Is bicycling the weight loss secret you’ve been looking for? I lost 40 pounds in 12 weeks and it wasn’t difficult. In fact, I had a lot of fun doing it. No, I haven’t lost my mind. I’ve struggled with my weight since college so I know how tough it can be to drop those extra pounds and as many people like to tell me, it’s harder to lose weight at your age.

NOTE: There’s a more recent update to this post: Thinner, stronger and feeling great! Click Here for Newer Post.
Come on, I’m only 49 and I just lost 4 pounds per week for the first 8 weeks and I’m still going down. Others told me that I couldn’t sustain losing 4 pounds every week, that I was dropping too fast and that I was at risk of putting it back on. We’ll that didn’t happen. I know what you’re thinking, you must have starved yourself to lose that much weight? I didn’t.  I had times when I might feel hungry but compared to past weight loss attempts hunger pains were almost non-existent. So what’s the secret?

This is the before and after photo.  My total weight loss was 40 pounds over 12 weeks.

Notice the side benefit, I got a nice tan being out in the sun riding. By the way, I’m golfing in Seattle in the second photo and hence the jacket.  Growing facial hair isn’t required but what the heck, if you’re going to change your look why not?

The following is the plan I followed:

  • Bicycle for 1 hour, 4 days per week.:  There is a child like joy involved in riding a bicycle and time flies when you’re having fun. Don’t worry about how far or how fast you’re riding. Just ride for one hour and each new ride, try to ride a little faster and farther than the previous one.  In other words, compete against yourself and on every ride go further and faster. Eventually I extended my rides to 1.5 hours. If you don’t have a bike computer on your bike, get one. They’re inexpensive and easy to install. You can always use your smart phone and an app like MapMyRide. The only down side is that the GPS on my iPhone wipes out my battery pretty quickly.
  • Less white colored foods:  To lose weight you need to burn fat and your body doesn’t get around to burning fat until it’s used up its stored energy from the sugars and other carbohydrates (carbs)  you’ve consumed.  When you don’t burn enough calories to use up the sugars (glucose) your body converts them to fat to be used later. I minimized the amount of white colored foods I ate so minimal pasta, rice, bread and potatoes. Lean meat like chicken and turkey along with plenty of vegetables made up my meals. I did not count calories but did try to keep my portions reasonable and tried to avoid hidden carbs and calories from condiments like salad dressing opting for vinegar and oil type dressings as opposed to Ranch or Blue Cheese.
  • Don’t eat after 8PM: Eating late allows your body to work on converting food to fat while you sleep.
  • Eat breakfast everyday and don’t skip meals: Getting your metabolism started first thing in the  morning is important and starving yourself just leads to a desire to go on a crazy eating binge later in the day. Dieting by will power is a sure formula for failure. Will power fails me every time so I have to avoid the need for it.
  • Drink plenty of water and cut back on soda including diet soda: Water helps with the weight loss process and while diet sodas don’t have any calories they do make you feel hungry. I get bored with water so I keep a pitcher of Crystal Light lemonade or tea in the fridge for when I just want a change.
  • Have good snacks available: If you’re hungry between meals, eat something small and give it some time to be absorbed into your system. My favorite snack is a slice of ham and a slice of cheese rolled around a slice of pickle but I also had vegetables and fruit in the fridge.
  • Weigh yourself every morning before breakfast: I found it to be motivational. If I was losing I’d be inspired to lose more, if I was flat or up slightly, I’d try and add a little extra bike riding to get back on track. I had a secret weapon in the weigh in department. I entered a “Biggest Loser” competition run by Laura Devine, a personal trainer in Charlottesville, VA. Every Monday morning I had to stand on a scale and have my weight logged by Laura which was the extra motivation I needed. I won the overall competition and personal training with Laura. I learned in personal training that my quads are dominant, big surprise huh.
  • Don’t  beat yourself up if you have a bad day: It’s going to happen, you’re going to have a stressful day or a special occasion and end up over eating but don’t let it end your good habits altogether. Tomorrow is another day and you’ll get back on track. Don’t let your mind beat you up.

NOTE: There’s a more recent update to this post: Thinner, stronger and feeling great! Click Here for Newer Post.

Now for the top excuses:

  1. The bike seat makes my butt hurt –  This is the number one reason by far that  I hear for not riding. Yes, your butt is going to hurt when you start riding.  I’m sorry, but until your butt, gets used to being on a saddle, it’s going to hurt but it will go away with time and miles. Some people get a big gel of fluffy seat cover which creates a different issue, friction and chaffing. Finding a good seat can definitely help as well as investing in some good quality bike shorts.
  2. I can’t give up bread, pasta and French fries, I love them too much – You don’t have to give them up, you just have to reduce the volume.  You can eat a lot of vegetables  and not consume many calories or carbs. If I go out for breakfast I’ll get a nice big omelet and ask the server to hold the bread and home fires or ask for cottage cheese instead.
  3. I’m not a breakfast eater – Neither was I and I thought it was helping me lose weight but it wasn’t. I’m lazy when it comes to cooking so I keep Eat Beaters, a package of crumbled turkey sausage, a package of ham chucks and shredded cheese in the fridge. A little macadamia nut oil (it’s good for you and it has a buttery taste) in a frying pan and I have a omelet in minutes.  For a change of pace I add mushrooms, bell pepper, and onion and f I’m feeling adventurous I cook the meat and veggies in a Thai hot sauce or add some Cajun spices.

Published by Johnny P

Johnny P has been a bicycle lover since he was a child. He's a self propelled individual with a zest for living. His mother tells a story about finding young Johnny on his tricycle on the couch ready to do his best Evil Kenivel jump. He loves to build bikes as much as ride them. He lives in Denver, CO with his wife where he operates a sales and marketing company that he founded.

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34 Comments

  1. I have to agree with you! I myself am 47 years old and over weight. Two years ago, I started riding. I was able to loose 64 lbs. in about 4 months. I since put the weight back on because I stopped riding and kept eating. But I now want to do the ride Pittsburgh to DC and have to get back in shape in order to do it. Great article! Thanks for the information.

  2. Great article written for “normal” guys! I have lost some weight in the past and ran two marathons. I have done a century as well. I have now decided that this is the year I get in shape once and for all. I have signed up for two big rides this year. Triple Bypass in Denver in July and Saints2Sinners relay (Salt Lake to Vegas.)
    I have been looking for something online to motivate me. Again, great article and thanks for sharing your story. I am going to lose 45 pounds in four months! The rides are in July and August but I would like to have a month to spare to focus on technique once the weight goals have been met.

    1. Jason, Thanks for the kind words and best of luck on your weight loss and rides. I’ve done the Triple by Pass. The 3rd photo from the left, on the top of the website, was taken on that ride on top of Loveland Pass. I’m the one with the red helmet. You do it like any other ride, one segment at a time and the next thing you know you’re on the downhill into Vail. I was in great shape then and gained weight when I moved to VA.

      1. Good, honest article. I am 73 snd was told I needed a knee replacement. I bought a $145.00 Sunny recumbent bike and gave it a go. After 23 days, my knee is getting perceptibly stronger and I have lost 8/9 pounds. I bike an hour a day at 10/11 miles an hour five days a week. If it works for it will work for most people

  3. Inspiring story! No “embellishments” – just basic stuff, but inspiring none-the-less! Thank you,

  4. Very inspiring. It seems that cycling is no different from any other exercise, in that sustained involvement causes increased fitness and weight loss – except that it’s low impact and enjoyable, so sustaining it becomes a lot easier! I’ve just bought a bike and all the kit so now looking to drop 30lbs.

    1. I hate going to the gym and I’m not a fan of running but I love riding bikes so it kept me out there. It doesn’t matter how far you ride at first, just build up your distance, speed and how many hills you climb. I’ve found that if you’re not sweating you’re probably not getting enough exercise in the lose weight. Best of luck to you!

  5. MYTH: “Don’t eat after 8PM: Eating late allows your body to work on converting food to fat while you sleep.”

    Excess calories converted to fat is not dependent on time of consumption..

    According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Weight Control Information Network, “it does not matter what time of day you eat. It is what and how much you eat and how much physical activity you do during the whole day that determines whether you gain, lose, or maintain your weight.”

    1. That’s true. I’ve eaten at around midnight and had my weight be lower when I got up in the morning. I think the real reason for not eating late is to prevent acid reflux. Or to prevent boredom eating.

      1. I believe it’s because your body isn’t burning many calories while you sleep so if you eat late the excess food calories will be stored as fat.

    2. I can’t get stuck on times when I eat because I work evening & night shifts. It’s a challeng to eat 3 meals a day with my schedule. Most diet plans are more geared toward a typical 8 to 5 schedule. And BTW on a I’m on a stationary bike now. Started last week and my butt hurts. Ouch!!

  6. Well 12 weeks in and I have lost over 8 Kg. I’m 44 and started cycling as my commute, racking up 25 miles a day. Got to say I love it and plan to do a 100 mile Tandem ride for charity in July.

    1. That is so awesome, thanks for sharing! People always ask me how I can ride 100 miles and they tell me that they could never do it. The real answer is that they can. You start riding 5 then 10 then 25 and 50 and your ready for the century. It’s like a marathon, you don’t ride a century to train for one. You ride 50 to 60 and then on the big day you ride 100 by thinking about it in smaller pieces. Charity rides typically have 5 rest stops in a century so I like to just think about riding to the next stop and then you find yourself at the end. I’ll give you a heads up that there is usually a time when your riding 100 miles that you get demotivated. For me it’s usually around 70 miles when I feel like I wish it was over. I suffer for about 10 miles and then feel good again. Many people tell me that this is a very common experience. Congratulations on your weight loss and miles and have a great time on the 100 mile ride!

  7. At age 47, I find it really hard to lose weight as easily as when I was younger. I love my bike, although I only get out on it a few times a month in good weather months (live in Nebraska). I am going to follow the basics of your plan, and hopefully can shed the 25-30 extra pounds I am carrying around — Thank you for your inspiration!

    1. Thanks for the kind words and I’m glad you found inspiration in my story. I’m in my early 50’s and I certainly understand what you’re saying about it being more difficult to lose weight. The diet will help you lose weight alone. For the exercise to have a real impact on both your weight and health you’ll need to get out a few times a week and ride long enough to sweat. I just finished reading a book called “Younger Next Year” and it talks about aging the need for even more exercise. What I’m finding now is that I’m moving from weight loss to strength and conditioning which just makes me feel great. I always thought that people that exercised a lot were over doing it but I’m beginning to understand the benefits. Best of luck with your weight loss and keep us up to date. Thx

    1. I don’t like to exercise and I certainly hate going to the gym but getting out and riding my bike is just fun and it makes me happy. I’ve loved bikes since I was a kid and I keep finding ways to ride more and drive my car less. I had to go to the post office today and instead of driving 2 miles to get there I just jumped on my cruiser bike http://www.beselfpropelled.com/giant-iguana/ and rode there. I came home with a big smile on my face, something about the feeling of gliding along on a bike. Good luck to you in losing weight and keep us up to date on how it’s going.

  8. It’s really weird. At the beginning of the year I’d get on my bike, even a week later, and had the sensation that someone had been kicking my rear for an entire night. The pain would be unbelievable, until I got into the swing of it. Which usually took about 15-30 minutes. I started up again, last week, and that is no longer a problem. I don’t have a different seat or anything. I haven’t adjusted my bike at all. I have one of those gel slipcovers for the seat, but I’ve been using that since I bought the thing. So either our butt gets used to it, or the muscles improve in such a way that it’s no longer a problem. I do a lot of walking, but that never made a dent in my weight. I’m already down 4 pounds from bicycling. I realize I’m on week 2, but since it’s no longer the excruciating pain it once was, it won’t be as difficult to go out and ride regularly. I find that the fact that my exercise is fairly strenuous just naturally causes me to eat better than I normally would. It takes the hunger or boredom away. It also gives me pretty decent sleep.
    I noticed in your before and after picture that you look younger now. It’s hard to believe that losing some weight would make that sort of difference. Good for you for caring about yourself enough to make a change in your life. I love when people don’t resign themselves to being unhealthy.

    1. We’ve always called the early season butt pain “hardening your ass”. Until you get some real saddle time in you feel it. I wouldn’t say that it ever totally goes away but it does feel better with more hours in the saddle. I should do a post on saddles. You mentioned a gel cover and while this makes the seat feel softer it often causes other issues. Your legs are moving a lot and the more contact area you have with them the more friction and discomfort you get. I’m not suggesting that you get one of those tiny rock hard saddles but smaller is better as long as your sit bones are supported. There are 2 saddles mentioned in this post and one is only $59.95 on Amazon and I’ve had good luck with both: http://www.beselfpropelled.com/giant-iguana/. It is interesting that as I lost weight I began to look younger. I thought I was going to look older with more loose skin but it didn’t turn out that way which is good news. The other good news is that I’ve kept the weight off and based on seeing these BMI (Body Mass Index) charts I’m pushing to drop some more. Thanks for your positive feedback and I hope your riding, dropping weight, getting stronger and looking younger!

  9. I am just sixteen and I look like 20..
    I want to get a bike in order for me to look moderate. I really love your looks..fatness makes someone looks older…
    infact am really motivated

  10. If you ask me what kind of exercise i like ? I must say cycling, it is one kind of my hobby. as my concern cycling is the fitness activity and easy way to burn calories with enjoy rather then any. focus should be on more fitness activity weight loss will come shortly.

  11. Bought an old lady bike with basket but don’t care I’m loving it! Out now for 7th day on the trot. Do roughly 4 mile a day (live in a town) mostly roads with inclines. Sweating my butt of but I love it! Hopefully the weight will come off too then I will upgrade bike

  12. I was going to buy myself a bike and this really motivated me. Im 17 (almost 18) and I only need to lose 30 to be back in shape. Im looking forward to riding. Thank you so much. And good job:)

  13. I’m turning 22 and I really want to drop 40 pounds. sadly I’m at 175pounds right now. your article really motivated me but where I’m from there isn’t anywhere safe to ride it’s always busy aND it’s not safe for a girl to be out alone in my country lately. I do have a stationary bike however so I started using that. I’ll post back soon or when I hit my target. how long you think it may take?

    1. Stephanie, the time required really depends on both your diet and your exercise level. Eating less calories is critical to weight loss. Burning more through exercise takes it to the next level. I’d recommend finding a phone app that helps you track your calorie intake and burn to know that you are burning more than you are consuming. I use the Fitbit app but there are many others out there. You’ll have to estimate the calories burned from the stationary bike rides. Don’t go easy on yourself, higher heart rate equals more calories burned and better overall fitness. Best of luck with achieving your goal!

  14. Thank you for the inspiring story. I am 49 years old and could lose about 40 pounds. I started riding this week, been out 3 times so far: 5 miles first time, 6 the second, and 7 miles last night. While I felt quite tired the first time out, I feel well after the third ride. I am hoping to hit the hour riding mark by the end of next week. I see that you wrote this blog nearly 5 years ago, just wondering, have you kept the weight off? Did you lose more? When did you peak? Did you have to modify anything to maintain the weight off? Thanks again.

    1. Joe, glad to hear you’re getting out on your bike and your questions are excellent. In fact, I’m going to create a follow-up post to this one to provide a more detailed update. The good news for me is that I’m about 15 pounds lighter than when I wrote the original post. I seem to peak in 10 to 12 pound increments. In other words, I drop 10 pounds and then I’m stuck there for months. As you get lighter, losing pounds becomes tougher. In terms of keeping the weight off, losing it more slowly has helped and I’ve had to really change how I eat. I have an emotional connection to food. If I’m stressed I like to eat. Eating is often part of a celebration or a social event and this can definitely take me in the wrong direction. I stop and ask myself if I’m eating because I’m hungry or am I eating for some other reason which helps me to stop and rethink what I’m doing. It doesn’t always work as emotions can be pretty powerful but it does help. I’ve also made exercising a very regular part of my life. In the past I would allow work or something else I needed to do prevent me from a good workout. To fix this I changed a comment I make to myself. If I ever say to myself “I don’t have time to exercise”, or anything else for that matter, I make myself rephrase it and I say “Exercise and being healthy is not a priority for me”. When I hear this I want to say “yes it is” since without your health nothing else goes very well. So overtime my weight loss and fitness secret has been to eat less and move more! What is really exciting is the other positive impact its had is that I no longer need to take blood pressure or cholesterol medications. The blood pressure medication was actually making me lightheaded and my blood tests have been excellent. Since my dad died of a heart attack this was a big positive for me. The other positive impact that I can’t really explain is that I no longer have allergies. I have to ask my doctor about this one as I don’t know that the connection makes sense but everyone around has been saying how bad the allergy season is and I took no medications this year and felt great. The last piece of advice I would give you is that you will have ups and downs on your weight. There will be a bad day or even a few bad weeks. Don’t let is have you go back to eating badly and not exercising. Take it from someone who has those days and weeks, they happen. Keep me up to date on how you’re doing and Enjoy the Ride!

  15. Love this article even though it is from 2012. I have had a rough patch with weight. I have hypothyroid and I’ve found I’m celiac over 5 yrs ago, plus I’ve been low carb for about 3 years. I have asked the doc to check anything that would indicate I have problem with my thyroid or perhaps prediabetes, but nothing. I have been very strict on my diet and really think I have begun gaining weight due to my metabolism almost hitting rock bottom. I am trying this strategy of cycling to see if anything more than what I have been doing will reverse the scales. It’s tough to make that time, honestly, at this point, for my health. Changing priorities is hard when you have responsibilities, but I’m working on that as well. I know I need to put myself first in this situation. That’s super difficult. I had been about 130lbs for 10yrs but now am about 157. I hope to knock off 20lbs that I’ve aquired in the past two years. Fought it the whole time and this is my last method to make into a habit, exercising more before anything else. I can’t afford to gain 10 lbs a year. I was once a person who never needed to do much exercise, just not eat too much then hit 45yrs and the battle began. Apparently just age and heredity. It’s a huge frustrating thing to build a new habit I never needed in life. I hope this will work. I’ll try to remember to post what happens. Good luck to anyone else on this journey.

  16. Inspiring article! I’m 63. Three weeks ago I started riding one hour a day, four days a week. I haven’t got on the scale, but I am using a smaller belt notch. Also, like you stated, the hunger pains are there.

    Thanks for sharing. I think you have a successful plan.

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